Back-to-School Shopping Sans Clutter

Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $848.90 per child on back-to-school shopping this year, according to the National Retail Federation, or $59 more than last year.

Given the downturn in spending while kids were distance-learning during the #pandemic, the uptick isn’t surprising. In fact, that lull in spending may mean that many students (and their parents) will be buying more #stuff this year than ever before.

If you’re going to be shopping for school in the weeks ahead, consider what you really need — and what you and your kids can shed in order to make room for it. Otherwise, all of that too-small clothing and all of those broken iPads will just add to the #clutter.

To keep levels of #junk in check, do a thorough #decluttering before you send the kids back to school. Help your children sort toys and books into four piles, Motherly suggests: Keep, donate, trash and “not quite yet.” Put the not-quite-yets in a closet or other out-of-the-way place until your child is comfortable letting them go.

Clothing is simpler: If a garment doesn’t fit, it should be handed down, sold at your next #yardsale or #donated immediately. If something it too worn to be of any further use, you can cut it into rags or trash it.

Books that won’t get read again can go, too. While you may want to hold on to classics that get read again and again, some books are age- or classroom-specific. If your child isn’t going to read a book again, you can donate it to a local library or ClothingDonations.org.

Finally, you can take any starred assignments and drawings from last year off the bulletin board or fridge. New ones will be on the way in just a few weeks, and Family Handyman suggests several #space-saving ways to save and show off a few family favorites.

Once you’ve cleared out the extra stuff you won’t be using, you’ll have space for nearly $900 in new goods. Make a list and start shopping early, however, since there may be shortages of essential items such as backpacks, stationery and tablet computers due to supply-chain disruptions.

“What we will likely see is more limited choice and lower stock levels towards the end of the back-to-school period,” Neil Saunders, retail analyst at GlobalRetail Data, told CNN. “Some consumers will inevitably miss out on the things they want to purchase.”

Managing a Move During the Pandemic

While slowing the spread of COVID-19 has required Americans to stay at home for more than year, where their homes are is changing rapidly. Since the start of the #pandemic, millions of people have pulled up stakes and #moved permanently.

Some people lost their jobs and were forced to move to save on expenses. Others want to find more space for their new #remote offices and classrooms. And some just want to get out of congested city centers and pursue a more socially distanced lifestyle every day.

If you’re looking at a move in the near future, be forewarned that the coronavirus has (of course) complicated the process. “Every task is just a little bit harder during the pandemic,” says USA Today.

To start, you’ll have to observe the proper sanitizing, masking and distancing precautions with any number of new people, including realtors or leasing agents, movers and storage facilities, and contractors and delivery personnel. And you’ll need them to take antiviral protocols seriously, too.

Look for “companies that require employees and customers to wear masks, detail how they practice social distancing, and can explain what steps they are taking to screen and protect their employees from becoming sick,” The New York Times says.

If you are in the market for a new home, rental and real estate agents are offering video tours to help people scope things out from a distance before they commit. Google’s Street View can also offer a preview of the new neighborhood.

Moving also means packing everything you own into boxes. Whether you’re purposely #downsizing or just trying to #streamline the moving process, weed out the things you won’t need in your new home; there’s no reason to move them.

As the disused clothing, books, small appliances and other household items start to pile up, set them aside in separate boxes and bags and contact ClothingDonations.org for a free, #contactless #donation #pickup. A masked driver will arrive on the appointed day to relieve you of that extra stuff.

Moving is never easy, but moving in pandemic times is that much more difficult. Let ClothingDonations.org help you strike at least one item off your long to-do list — and help you resettle happily in a new location as the pandemic slowly recedes.

It’s Time to Shed All of Your Possessions

#Minimalism means giving up everything you own. April fool’s! While the concept does include letting the things that don’t bring value to your life go, minimalism is really about giving yourself more time, space and freedom, Simple Lionheart Life says. You can still have a collection or hobby as long as it brings joy and satisfaction into your life — if you love and use books, for example, keep lots of books! But the #minimalist lifestyle goes beyond simply #decluttering your #stuff and can help you focus on relationships, diet, spending patterns and more.

Hygge: Cozy Without Clutter

Hygge (pronounced “hoo-guh”) is a concept celebrated mostly in Denmark that heralds the creation of a cozy, welcoming living space. Originally, the concept is thought to be the indoorsy, affirming answer to Scandinavia’s long, bleak winter nights.

Since English-speakers don’t have a word for the concept, picture yourself relaxing in a warm ski lodge after a long day of skiing or snowshoeing, with cup of tea or hot chocolate in hand, a crackling fire in the hearth, and a wooly blanket in your lap.

Nice, huh? Now bring that feeling home.

What’s missing from that picture is all of the #junk, papers and #clutter you’ve collected over the years. Because at the core of the #hygge concept is #simplicity — cognizant of the fact that extra #stuff is #anxiety-producing, hygge takes a #minimalist approach.

#Minimalism gets a bad rap as stark or cold, says Simple Lionheart Life, a minimalist blog, and Scandinavia’s penchant for modern design might underline that misconception. But hygge is a different kind of minimalism that’s all cozy blankets, candles and #calm.

To embrace it (and survive the long, socially distanced winter), you’ll need to get rid of the #clutter that’s overrunning your space; it’s distracting from what’s really important and may actually be getting in the way of your sense of inner peace.

“Hygge isn’t about ‘things’ at all,” the blog says. “It’s more about slowing down and being present to appreciate and enjoy your life. And finding ways to celebrate ordinary moments and make them special.”

To embrace it, figure out what you value and what makes you feel good about your home. Then, get rid of everything that isn’t contributing to that feeling. Throw the stuff somebody might still want into boxes and bags, and contact ClothingDonations.org for a donation pickup.

Keep your favorite blanket, a candle, and a couple of good books or board games, of course, because once you #declutter your home, you’ll want to relax and enjoy how #clean and #cozy it is mindfully — hyyge-style — by yourself and with family and friends.

Vote to Clean House – And Help Veterans

Greetings, readers! The Organizing Blog is back from its six-month pandemic hiatus — and just in time for a presidential election that’s sure to be contentious. Today, get out and exercise your right to vote if you haven’t already.

You may be in the mood to “clean house” with your vote, given the disruptions COVID-19 has brought to everyday life. Are you better off than you were four years ago? Hard to say — but life pre-COVID was almost certainly less stressful.

House is also where you’ve probably been spending a lot of time since March — and you and your family members may be confined there again if the current spikes in coronavirus infections don’t abate before winter.

After you’ve voted, binge-watched your Netflix shows and baked a loaf of sourdough, you may look around your home and find that spending lots of time there has led to added dirt and clutter. And that means it may be a good time to literally clean house.

Maybe you bought a lot of extra stuff online that you later found out you didn’t need in lockdown. Maybe working from home or switching the children to remote learning has created new, voluminous piles of papers. Or maybe the boredom and added wear have you wanting to overhaul the space altogether.

Whatever the reason you want to clean house, remember the nation’s veterans as you declutter, organize and sanitize your space. Donate the stuff you no longer want or need to ClothingDonations.org; we’re again scheduling pickups in many areas.

Veterans are vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis. Most Vietnam vets, for example, are now over 65, and many have preexisting conditions that could make a coronavirus infection life-threatening. And they, too, feel isolated and uncertain in their homes.

The stuff you donate gets resold at secondhand stores to fund programs that provide veterans with health care, housing and other resources. Box it up as you clean house and  then arrange for a #donation pickup online at ClothingDonations.org or by calling 888-518-VETS.

You’ll not only be able to enjoy a cleaner, clutter-free home, but also help veterans feel more secure in theirs.